Territorial strategies for managing plurinational states

Authored by: Wilfried Swenden

Routledge Handbook of Regionalism and Federalism

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415566216
eBook ISBN: 9780203395974
Adobe ISBN: 9781136727627

10.4324/9780203395974.ch5

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Abstract

This chapter critically assesses territorial strategies for managing plurinational states. After defining the plurinational state, the chapter identifies a number of ‘varieties’ of territorial strategies. Subsequently the chapter reviews the debate among scholars of ‘governing divided societies’ with respect to the cost and benefits of territorial management. According to some, territorial solutions set plurinational states on a path of disintegration with the emergence of new – often unitary-sovereign – states as their most likely outcome. For others, territorial solutions provide the best chance for holding together plurinational states. In this chapter, I argue that territorial strategies can indeed be successful for managing plurinationalism, but only if they arise under favourable conditions (within a consolidated democratic context) and adopt a suitable territorial design. Furthermore, territorial strategies are often part of a wider toolkit of institutional devices for managing divided societies, and as such they are rarely sufficient in their own right for governing plurinational democracies.

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